Tottenham’s opening goal against Swansea City was beautiful, but that was quickly overshadowed by what happened after they scored. Swansea striker Bafetimbi Gomis appeared to faint at the edge of the center circle, leading to six nervous minutes when everyone at White Hart Lane had an eerie sense of déjà vu.
Almost three years ago, during a FA Cup quarter-final match at White Hart Lane, Fabrice Muamba fainted and almost died on the pitch. That day the match was abandoned, and for good reason, since the situation was literally life or death. If it wasn’t for the well documented work of the Tottenham team doctor working perilously hard to revive Muamba, death didn’t seem too far away. Tottenham went on to win the replay, but it felt as if that result didn’t matter. Muamba made a return to White Hart Lane where he received a standing ovation, and is now doing TV punditry.
When Gomis collapsed at the edge of the center circle when Swansea were re-starting the match yesterday, most onlookers at the Lane were probably thinking, “oh no, not again”. It took further research for most to find out that Gomis has had a history of collapses in the past, including once while on French national team duty, but that didn’t relieve any pressing fears watching both medical teams attempt to revive Gomis. Both sets of players looked on in anguish, especially those Tottenham players who watched the Muamba episode three years prior, as did the supporters. Thankfully, Gomis is going to be fine, and the game went on without further incident, which was a welcome sight.
Re-living the Muamba episode while watching Gomis collapse was entirely frightening, but it was refreshing and relieving to see how quickly the medical crews from both teams were able to get to work on the pitch, in stark comparison to 2012. It’s a great sight to see just how quickly these medical teams can get to work and how prepared they are for every eventuality, meaning that situations such as Muamba’s are increasingly unlikely.
On the 25th anniversary of the collapse of Hank Geathers while he was playing college basketball for Loyola Marymount in 1990, it is wonderful to see that medical advances can not only keep these players alive, but get them back to working order in such a quick fashion. The number of footballers collapsing and dying on the pitch is still way too high across Europe, but it is a welcome sight to see that if one does collapse again, he has a chance to be ready for the next match instead of his career being over, or worse.
More than anything, it was a relief not to feel déjà vu at White Hart Lane after what happened three years ago.
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